We briefly went over the card game of pai gow poker in a previous post. You can read this post if you would like to learn the basics of the game. This card game is gaining in popularity, especially in the casinos in California.
Pai gow poker is a game that is like all others in the casino in that a lot of luck is involved. The house edge is something that you have to consider because it is telling you your odds of winning any one hand. Knowing the house edge and how to whittle away at it will put you in the best possible position each and every time you sit down to play, whether it is in a brick and mortar casino or an online casino.
Beating the House
How do you beat the house in pai gow poker? Really look at your hand. So many people give the house a better edge because they don’t pay attention to detail. Many players look at their cards and think they see a great combination but they didn’t pay attention to suit or color so when they show their hand they realize they didn’t have a chance of winning against the dealer. Really paying attention to your cards will help you reduce your losses long term.
Next, you need to remember that pairs are always on your side in the game of pai gow poker. Many players assume that high pairs are beneficial for your low hand, but they forget that low pairs, even twos are beneficial. Why is this a good way to beat the house in pai gow poker? It works because statistically speaking your pair, even a low pair, will beat the dealer’s hand. While a pair will not help you win 100% of the time, it will put you at a better advantage than most other combinations of cards.
Another way to have a better chance to beat the house in pai gow poker is to choose to play when you have an Ace King combination. An Ace King combination is almost always worth playing, even if you do not have any other valuable cards. Of course, if you had a pair or a queen and a jack with the Ace and the King this would be even better, but if you have just the two cards you usually can whittle away at that house edge, giving yourself a better chance of winning.
A lot of players will fold even with this combination if the dealer has an Ace. If the dealer has an Ace you need to decide for yourself in the moment whether you believe the hand is worth playing.
These are the best was to beat the house edge in pai gow poker. While there may be other ways that you will develop after playing for some time, these are tried and true strategies that will work for you in any casino, whether you play pai gow poker online or at a casino. You can use one or both options in each game, putting yourself in the best possible position with each hand.
Part of your decision for splitting up your cards between the high and low hands is knowing what the dealer will do. The dealer doesn’t make decisions. The dealer will use a set of rules call the House Way when deciding what two cards to split. Here are the major rules for the dealer when using the House Way:
If the dealer has no pairs or one pair, the dealer will take the highest ranked two single cards available and split them to the low hand. In regards to the other hands discussed below, low cards are ranked 2 through 6, medium cards are ranked 7 through 10, and high cards are face cards and aces.
Dealer’s hand has two pairs
If the dealer has two pairs that are either medium or low, the pairs will be split up and the lower pair will be placed in the low hand unless the dealer also has a King or Ace available. With a high pair and a low pair, the dealer will split the pairs up unless the dealer also has an Ace.
If the dealer has two high pairs, a high pair and a medium pair, or a pair of aces and any other pair, the pairs will always be split between the two hands.
Dealer’s hand includes a straight or flush
The dealer will not break up the straight or flush in the high hand except when one of the two pair scenarios above are in play. If the dealer has two pair and an Ace, the ace and the next highest ranked single card will be used in the low hand.
Dealer has three pairs
The dealer will always split the highest pair into the low hand.
Dealer has three of a kind
The dealer will always play the three of a kind in the high hand. The lone exception is when the dealer has trip aces and no pairs; then an ace will be split into the low hand.
Dealer has a full house
The only time a full house won’t be split is when the dealer has a pair of 2′s and the dealer also has an Ace/King to play.
Dealer has a four of a kind
A low four of a kind will always be kept in the high hand. A medium four of a kind will be split unless the dealer also has an ace and a face card. A high four of a kind will always be split unless the dealer also contains another medium or high pair.